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Research Guides

Understanding Keywords

Keywords are the essential elements that describe complex ideas and topics; the important, descriptive nouns and verbs. Do not try to search phrases or sentences—find keywords.

Focus on the concepts at the heart of your question first. Using these core concepts you will generate several relevant keywords that will better focus your search results.

Sample Keywords

Research Question: Como o dramaturgo trata o tema do grotesco na Auto da Compadecida?

Brainstorm Keywords (start with main concepts above, and then add synonyms and related terms):

Ariano Suassuna Auto da compadecida grotesco dramaturgia
rogues' trial
grotesque play
    Carnavalização comedy
    carnivalesque* comédia
    carnival* peça


5 Steps to Generating Keywords

  1. Have a well-formed research question
  2. Extract core terms from this research question
  3. Brainstorm a list of alternative terms or phrases for each core term
  4. Organize the list of terms and phrases by creating a hierarchy, indicating broader and narrower terms for each core term
  5. Identify which terms you would combine to conduct a search

Search Tips

* = truncation symbol, your friend

Two searches: 1 in English, one in Portuguese

Use the command "OR" to search for both languages at the same time:

e.g. grotesco OR grotesque